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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Witches on the Road Tonight

Just finished ‘Witches on the Road Tonight’ by Sheri Holman. It was interesting. Not exactly what I thought it would be. The story jumps from the past to the present and sometimes in between. It is the tale of a dying weather man, Eddie,   who also hosts a weekly horror movie night on a local television station. He grew up in the Appalachians in a place called Panther Gap. It’s the 40’s and his mother is a reputed witch.  He is ostracized by the local kids and while running away from a beating runs into a car driven by a man and a woman who have been hired by the Federal government to map the state and write stories with photos of different locations. They stop to help Eddie who refuses to go to the hospital, so they take him home. They should have dropped him off and ran as far and as fast as they could. But of course they don’t.

It is a tangled story about those people and Eddie and his own family in the future. I finished it because curiosity about what was really happening kept me going. I can’t say I really liked the characters. None of them were really likable. All of them seemed to have a death wish.  I was hoping it would have more mountain lore and less fantasy. I never really understood what the witch was doing, or why. I guess I never really understood that character’s motivation, other than she wanted to fly. Endings don’t always have to be satisfactory but when everything was tied up at the end, it left me wanting further explanation. I was left too unsure about some of the story lines so felt unsatisfied. I do think this author is a good writer. She is able to tell a story and weave the story lines. This one just felt like it ended with too many knots going no where.

I would give it a 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it to those who like a little fantasy with their mystery.

Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2011 in What I'm Reading

 

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Time to Get to Know the Bad Guy

I would like to say I got more done with my story this week but it wouldn’t be honest. I am still working out the kinks of my characters. Protagonist is shaping up well but I think that is because the idea started out with her. I have a skeletal plot and know that because this is a mystery there has to be at least one murder but I don’t have a good grasp of my villain.

This weekend, I am working on the villain. I have ideas for how the victims will die but I need to know the killer a little better. Who he/she is and why he/she would want to kill a bunch of little old ladies. So to work on this, I pulled out another reference book
to help, ‘Bullies, Bastards and Bitchesby Jessica Morrell.

I think the hardest part about the villain is that you have to be able to create someone the reader will fear and hate but they still have to have some quality that  is unexpected and makes them if not likeable, at least human.  Just as the good guy has
to have some flaw, there has to be something good about the bad guy. If the protagonist is perfect and the antagonist is totally evil, the reader knows exactly what to expect, there are no surprises, and the story becomes predictable. So that is my assignment for this weekend.

Today is also the first day of my vacation and I do plan to put in many hours of writing.  I also need to have a little fun, as well. A cookout this evening with family and I’m meeting with my critique group tomorrow about 45 minutes away. None of our group lives in the same town. Because we are scattered within the central part of the state, we picked a city in the middle and try to meet there twice a month. We usually do lunch and then head to a local bookstore for a nice chat and critique, depending on what each member needs.

As far as reading this week, I am working on ‘Witches on the Road Tonight’, by Sheri Holman. It is for pleasure but also for a little research on how this author writes about witches in the Appalachia’s. I am about half way through and it is an enjoyable read. I
will plan to review it later.

Hope you too have a great week – reading and or writing.

Virginia

 

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Agatha Trivia

‘A Murder is Announced’ Trivia

Just finished reading ‘A Murder is Announced’ last night and I would like to review but because it is a book my local chapter of Sisters in Crime is discussing, I don’t want to review it until those followers have read it.

Still I thought it might be kind of fun to do a Trivia quiz for the meeting. I am going to post the quiz here and find out just how many of our members read my blog. Granted, I am not giving the answers but anyone who reads this will have a chance to find the answers before our meeting later this month. Anyone else is welcome to play along as well. After our meeting, the third Saturday of the month, I will post the answers for anyone interested.

  1. ‘A Murder is Announced’ was Agatha’s ________ book published?
  2. Inspector ________________ worked on this case with Miss Marple’s      help.
  3. Names of the lesbian couple in this story _____________________
    and _____________________.
  4. Name of the vicarage cat ________________________________.
  5. What was the time that the murder was supposed to take place?      ____________
  6. What was the name of Bunny’s Birthday cake?      __________________________
  7. Who did Agatha model Miss Marple after?      ______________________________
  8. AT the Bochercon World Mystery Convention in May _________ she was      named Mystery Writer of the Century and the Poirot books Mystery Series of the Century.
  9. What cozy mystery convention features the Agatha award? __________________
  10. Was Agatha a cat lover or a dog lover?    _________________________________

Again, have a happy 4th and enjoy the fireworks – along with a good book.

Virginia

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Mystery Novels

 

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4th of July 2011

I have been counting down the days to another long weekend. It seems that there are too few of them.  I am planning to work on characters for my
current work in progress. Trying to get to the point where I can actually start writing when I have my week of vacation starting on the 9th.

When I write, I like to have a bit of an outline without filling in all the gaps. Not knowing everything seems to make the whole process more fun but I do need to have some direction. Developing characters is one way I work on developing my story. It’s more than deciding what they look like. It’s about discovering who they are and what they would do. Creating a past that will help determine the character’s present and future. It’s like meeting someone new and sitting down for a chat but this character isn’t afraid to tell me everything. The more I know, the more I can predict how this character would react if dropped into different situations.  Someone who has a fear of the dark is not going to wander off into the woods alone at night unless they have no other choice. If the reader is aware of the character’s fear it makes them want to stay with the story to find out what happens.

It’s easy to make the protagonist too much like yourself. You know what you would do in a given situation but the character is not you so you have to create someone who would react differently than you would as the writer. You have to decide what the character wants most, what they are most afraid of, what their goals are, and what motivates them. Do they have flaws and what are they? What is their background? Where do they come from? What have they done? What has happened to them to make them into the person they are now?

Because your story has to have more than one person you have to populate your book with several characters. Some are major characters, some minor, and some who just walk-on to the story. It is also easy to create a flawless character. Everyone has flaws.

No one likes a perfect person, they’re not interesting. To shake it up a little, even your good guy has to have some faults. The same can be said for
the antagonist, he can’t be all evil. He has to have something good about him; otherwise you end up working with paper doll characters. They need a little more depth. By creating fully developed characters you make them three dimensional. You make them people want to read about and spend some time with.

 

I always turn to books as references while writing. The books I am using currently to develop my characters are ‘Plot versus Character’
by Jeff Gerke and ’45 Master Characters – Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters’ by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. I plan to write a review about my reference books at another time so won’t go into detail for now. Besides the weekend is wasting away as I blog so need to get back to my project.

 

Currently I am reading ‘A Murder is Announced’ by Agatha Christy. It is a book my Sister’s in Crime group is reading to discuss at our July Meeting. Now that I am further into the book, I am enjoying immersing myself into that time period. If you haven’t read Agatha’s novels, it’s never
too late to start. Would love to hear about your writing process, I am truly interested in that aspect of writing. How do you create your characters? Do you use detailed information or do you just have them fully developed in your head?  What are you reading right now? Feel free to comment and share. There is nothing better than visiting with writers and readers.

Hope you all have a happy and safe 4th. Spend some of it outside away from your computer. As writers you can’t expect to write about life unless you experience some of it.

Virginia

 
 

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